Attachment straps for my shoulder bag

As you may know, I use a Finnish army gas mask bag as a shoulder bag in the woods. I find it convenient to keep smaller, frequently used items there, where they are readily accessible, rather than in my backpack. Previously, I had done two small modifications to this shoulder bag: waxing to make it water resistant and the addition of padding on the shoulder strap to make it more comfortable. Last weekend, I did another small modification to this bag to make it more useful: I added two straps to the underside for carrying my rain poncho externally.

While the rain poncho fits just fine inside the shoulder bag with all the other contents, it doesn’t leave much room for additional things. Attaching the rain poncho to the outside allows me to easily fit a day’s worth of food inside (which is usually the only thing I need to bring that’s not already included in the kit). It also frees up extra room for my knife, so I can keep it there if I am in a public place where wearing my knife on my belt would be a bit weird.

I started by cutting two German military surplus straps to size (I don’t remember what the original purpose of these straps was. Attachment straps for a sleeping bag, maybe?). I then melted wax and soaked the ends of the straps with the wax to prevent fraying and to stiffen them up a bit. The final step was to sew them on. I reinforced the front and back stitch lines several times for added strength. Hopefully the thick military-grade thread I used will be strong enough. If this proves not to be the case, I will reinforce the stitching with some type of extra-strong thread. I’ll keep an eye on it to see how it holds up.


17 comments on “Attachment straps for my shoulder bag

  1. Very nice, I’ll have to do that to my old surplus bag. It’s an old US Koren war bag but nearly identical to yours.

  2. Ron says:

    I think this is a very basic, yet very good idea.
    What I think however, is that this way the bag will even become heavier, because you can, and most likely will, fill up the area that has become vacant now.
    I noticed that if I keep my bag quite light it will not bother me, but I believe that if I were to load it to full capacity it will become cumbersome.
    Your bag looks different than mine, too.

    • Hehehe, I knew someone would think of this. πŸ˜‰

      I can assure you that I will not add extra stuff now that there is more space. πŸ™‚ I know this because I have contemplated the contents of my bag many times and simply do not want/need anything more in this bag. The only additional thing I will put into the bag will be food. The bag as it is now is filled up (leaving space for food), but it’s not cumbersome or heavy because the shoulder and waist straps nicely distribute the weight.

      Yes, there are different versions of this bag. Some have the internal divider, and some don’t. Some are lighter, and some are darker. I believe the one you have is newer. πŸ™‚

  3. OZme says:

    I have noticed in the field that quite many hikers in Finland do not strap things out side of the pack. Instead, they carry huge size back pack which can accommodate all they carry in the pack.
    I like strap things out side of the pack because of accessibility and organizing reason. Also I like small as possible bag size. If not, I tend to pack too much:)
    One mod I like to do on the bag (the kind of bag you show here) is to give back pack conversion option. Add 2 D rings to bottom corners and one loop on top center. I found it very convenient if the bag can be used also as a back pack.

    • We seem to have a similar packing philosophy. πŸ™‚ I’m usually pretty disciplined when it comes to not filling up empty space, but nevertheless I like to have small packs because it means I’m carrying less!

      Your idea to add D-rings to the bottom corners for use as a backpack is great! Maybe that will be the next modification I do to this pack. Thin shoulder straps could easily be kept inside the bag for use when needed.

  4. Ron says:

    Hmm, that’s a great idea OZme!

    I also like to add stuff to the outside of my smaller packs… Makes things more versatile.
    I think that appearantly many Finnish hikers are afraid of losing stuff. Is this kind of gear expensive over there?
    I also carry several small packs together, usually; one for each purpose like food, tools, first aid…

    • Military surplus stuff isn’t necessarily expensive here. I don’t know if Finnish hikers are afraid of losing stuff or what. Maybe they just have a tradition of doing things differently here. Who knows.

    • Perkunas says:

      Generally, we tend to separate dayhikers and hikers…like wonderers. And very few are interested to strap gear outside the packs, as they always get torn, or stick between branches,get wet, and whats the most…if there aint specifically designed external attachemt points for your own specific gear, in the long run, the stuff will bounce, swing, move you sideways and stress the pack, so we like to stuff all in, for that reason. Dayhiker-like campcrafters and bushcrafters are different topic, as they dont carry same gear usually. this is also maybe a cultural thing but IMO, anyone who REALLY hikes here, carries usually only sleeping mattress,sleeping bag and perhaps a tent, outside the pack, if the pack has external tubular frame but the modern ergonomical hidden frame packs are usually used so that everything is inside if possible. I would like to see a factory made backpack that suits everyones gear and allows everyone to strap the gear so that it doesnt swing and is tied snugly. I bet there aint one πŸ™‚

      I mean to say that bushcrafters, are very minimal crowd here, and we also separate hikers in to few obvious types, and bushcrafters ovearall are their own weird πŸ™‚ tribe that mixes old school design, to dayhike load, and usually you dont see bushcrafters in any real hiking trips….as determination of real hiking also varies :).


      • Thanks for the input. I’ve never had problems with stuff strapped to the outside of my pack, though I usually only have a sleeping bag and tent on the outside.

        As for bushcraft vs. “real hiking”. Bushcraft activities seem to be more stationary (like making/using stuff at a camp), whereas hiking is…well…on the move. I think there can be a good amount of overlap there, but they are definitely their own things. For my trip to Lapland, I mostly used my bushcraft gear/methods, but incorporated some hiking stuff in as well. Using even more hiking methods/gear would certainly have made some things go faster. πŸ˜‰

  5. OZme says:

    I do not know the trouth, but I do not think it is because afraid of losing stuff. I think that is just the common way. When my wife saw me strapping stuff for first time, she thought it is weird πŸ™‚

  6. Chris says:

    I have been mulling over this very modification for my shoulder bag. I think I might be able to cinch down my poncho & liner into a manageable roll. If so it would make a really slick overnight bag for the warmer months. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Yeah, do it! πŸ™‚

      I’d love to be able to carry just a poncho liner for an overnight trip in the summer. Last June I did a weekend trip and the temperature dropped to 2.5*C/36.5*F one night! That’s Finland for you. I was lucky I brought my thermal underwear along, because I needed it in my sleeping bat that night.

      But it would be easy enough for me to attach a sleeping bag to a sling or something like that and throw it over my shoulder. With my shoulder bag kit and sleeping bag I’d be set for MOST summer nights. πŸ˜‰

  7. Akiri says:

    That Finnish army gasmaskbag is very popular as woods men shoulderbag πŸ™‚ I have too and I will later show my bag in my blog…..but anyway nice attachment straps you ve done

  8. Ron says:

    Have you tried out the new configuration, yet?

    • I’ve been using it ever since I attached the straps. πŸ™‚ So far, it’s been working perfectly. I have to admit that you were right, I did add two things to my bag after taking the poncho out: a flint and steel kit and a jar lantern. However, since I replaced my canteen and small pot with the Swiss military surplus canteen and cup, I have even more room now than before!

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